American chestnut

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American chestnut Castanes dentate


A large, deciduous tree, Castanea dentata, that formerly grew throughout North America. However, a fungus, Oriental chestnut blight, imported in the early part of the 20th century killed most of the trees. Timber from the American chestnut is similar to oak with a light brown, coarse grain. The durable wood was widely used prior to World War II for paneling, framing, fence posts, rails, and shingles. Dyes and tannin are extracted from the bark and wood.

Synonyms and Related Terms

American chestnut (Castanea dentata);

American Chestnut Castanea dentata
Chestnut (Castanea dentata)

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Large tree growing over 30 m.
  • Bark=smooth dark brown
  • Leaves=simple oblong with veins and serrated edges.
  • Flowers=tiny pale green in catkin (8-10 com long).
  • Fruit=Large husk containing 2-3 shiny brown nuts.
  • Soft, lightweight wood with porous rings (specific gravity= 0.48).
  • Wood is low in salts and high in acids.
  • Density = 30-46 ppcf

Additional Images

Resources and Citations

  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Virginia Tech Dendrology website at (accessed Oct. 8, 2005)
  • Thomas J.S. Learner, Analysis of Modern Paints, Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, 2004
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • Gordon Hanlon, contributed information, 1998